A great job description is your first opportunity to acquire stellar talent. Successful job listings are advertisements that help you land top performers; the descriptions showcase your company’s strengths and thriving culture.
In contrast, a bad job description may discourage strong applicants, and invite unfit talent. So if you’re looking to hire smart, it’s crucial to nail the job description.
And here are our tips on how to write a great job description.
7 Tips for writing a great job description
1. Start by identifying the job's requirements
If you’re unclear about a job’s requirements, effectively communicating them in a listing becomes impossible. So before you start on the job description itself, it’s important to outline the role’s requirements.
You might want to ask yourself questions like:
- What hard skills does the role require?
- What soft skills are needed?
- What are the responsibilities?
- Can the role entertain hybrid or remote work? Or does it exclusively require on-site presence?
- How many years of experience is ideal for the role?
Regarding this last point, it’s important to be reasonable. Unless the role requires it, steer clear of asking for several years of experience. Otherwise, you could discourage perfectly skilled talent from applying, simply because of the perceived lack of experience.
2. Create a clear, specific job title
There isn’t much to say here, but it’s essential to keep this point in mind. A precise job title clearly communicates the role to prospective applicants, encouraging them to read on or move on to the next listing.
3. Clearly outline the responsibilities and expectations
This point is vital for two primary reasons:
- It helps attract good talent. Clearly, outlining responsibilities conveys the role’s requirements, and detailing expectations discourages unfit applicants from applying. If you define precise, measurable expectations, you can expect more applications from candidates that strive to deliver.
- It prevents onboarding and integration issues. If applicants don’t know what they’re signing up for, you may face problems post-hiring. In the worst-case scenario, you might even lose the new hire altogether.
So after you’ve determined the role’s requirements, try to communicate them effectively in the job description.
4. Detail the required qualifications and skills
Specific skills and qualifications are often necessary to excel in a role, but some are more vital than others. In your job description, consider specifying which qualifications are non-negotiable, and which are ‘preferred’ but not necessary.
The advantage of a ‘preferred’ section is that you might still find applicants with strong ‘necessary’ skills, with room to upskill them.
5. Emphasize your company culture
When prospective candidates read your job description, several thoughts find them. They’re not just deciding if you’ll like them, but if they like your organization, too.
So consider giving candidates insight into your company culture in a few lines. You don’t need to go into too much detail – a single sentence or two about the workplace environment suffices.
6. Put candidates first
The purpose of a good job description is to land the best talent. Unfortunately, however, some organizations lose sight of this purpose and discuss their own company at length.
When writing job descriptions, the safest question to keep asking yourself is: “Is this relevant?”. So, while writing about your company culture might be necessary, writing two paragraphs about your organization’s history might be overkill.
Many organizations improve their hiring with a candidate-first approach, which starts with the job description. You can use terms like “you are…”, “you possess…”, “you excel at…”, etc., to keep the narrative focused on the applicant.
7. Sell your pitch
At the cost of repeating ourselves…job descriptions are advertisements. So it’s essential to make them compelling; make top talent want to buy. Or, in this case, apply.
To make your offer compelling and truly sell your pitch, you might want to consider including:
- Employee benefits;
- Salary ranges;
- Bonuses and any stipulations;
- Opportunities for professional growth (many applicants value this).
Bonus Tip: clearly communicate the application process
After writing a great job description, don’t lose at the finish line by failing to communicate the application process. It’s important to conclude your job description with a “How to Apply” section, making it easy for prospective candidates to take action.
Examples of a great job description
1. Ahref's C++ developer description
The team over at Ahrefs puts together some great job descriptions, like this one here:
This description checks essential boxes:
- It’s easy to read
- The requirements, including which knowledge is ‘preferred’, are clearly outlined.
- The expectations are communicated
- It concludes with a strong pitch and a compelling offer
2. QA Engineer job description by EverythingMe
Similar to the previous example, EverythingMe’s job description clearly outlines requirements, expectations, and responsibilities. Additionally, the listing is easy to read, and the application process is clearly communicated.
When it comes to talent acquisition, Red Adair, a legendary oil well fighter and innovator, expressed a powerful sentiment:
We wholly agree with him; the cost of having something done wrong is always expensive. A bad job description could lead to poor hiring. A bad hire could lose you an important client. So don’t skimp on the job description – craft a magnet that attracts the best tech talent.
We hope you found WeCP (We Create Problems) tips for how to write a great job description helpful!